I saw a good opening to chime in here. First of all, as others have said, do NOT partition your drive for the sake of putting your samples on their own partition. This is completely counter-productive. The performance will be LOWER.
However, a great idea is to make a 2nd partition for placing less frequently used and less performance-critical files, like music, images, vids, etc. This will free up room on your first partition and enable your samples to be closer to the outer drive tracks.
You may also want to consider a disk defragmenting program with file system organization features, like Disktrix's UltimateDefrag 2008. As an example of how you could use this to your benefit, you could specify that you want your OS, sample, and DAW application files/directories consolidated to the outer tracks of your primary partition, and your other app and document files consolidated to the inner tracks of your primary partition. This would leave room for you to keep adding samples to the higher-performance outer tracks.
You could use a program like this with or without the 2nd partition, but I still highly recommend having a second partition for placing the files whose performance isn't critical. You can even do the high/low performance consolidating on the second partition too.
Think about it... this all pretty much makes sense, huh? I've had great success with this kind of disk management paradigm. I use UD2008 and multiple partitions to really manage the performance of my files, and I think it's a pretty darn great program (not perfect, but...).
I have installed Cubase Essential 4 and Garritan Standard on my laptop. So far, I have only played Garritan in standalone mode, and it is working with very few skips streaming from the internal drive at 41K with 512 samples via ASIO4ALL (without soft samples). I will be excited to see what difference my Indigo IOx makes when I get it.
I never realized how poor my pedal technique was until I played the presets with the release samples!
I disable Wi-Fi and (sometimes) Bluetooth while playing (my mouse is Bluetooth). I read somewhere (I don't remember where) that there are a couple more performance tweaks to make, like giving background processes priority and disabling processor scaling. Does anyone know where to find these settings in Vista?
Okay, I may break down and get an external disk for samples.
I do have a question, though:
If I have an external 7200 RPM Firewire drive for GASP samples, can I store samples for other instruments on the same drive that I will be using in Cubase Essential 4 alongside GASP?
For example, if I have the samples for GASP, Manytone's ManyBass and ManyGuitar, Musiclab's RealGuitar, Scarbee VKC, and Addictive Drums all on the external drive, and I'm using all of these together in a project (okay, maybe not GASP and Scarbee both at once), won't that just put a bottleneck on the external drive?
I know that you can freeze tracks to lighten CPU and harddisk stress, but I won't be able to freeze everything at once right at the beginning of a project.
Perhaps the answer would be to just put GASP and Scarbee on the external drive, and put the other libraries on the system drive (where I will also record audio).
Thanks in advance for continually putting up with this noob!